The transition from high school to college can be daunting; when you leave the secure bubble of your hometown to travel to a space where all religions, beliefs, movements, clubs and words are accepted, you sometimes don’t know how to respond to the change. Finding the right words and knowing the facts can be essential to finding your niche on campus.
One of these aforementioned movements is called BDS—Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
This movement rejects and undermines Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state by misinforming the public and distorting the media.
Co-Founder of the BDS movement, Omar Al-Barghouti, clearly states BDS’s ultimate view of a Jewish state: “I clearly do not buy a two-state solution…Definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian…would ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”
The Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights group, adds that BDS not only rejects Israel as a Jewish state but it furter, “Denies the Jewish people the right to self-determination — a right universally afforded to other groups.” The only way to fight such an oppressing movement is through education: this article is meant to expose the illegitimacy of the BDS movement and shine light on the myths spread in the media.
One of the most common myths is that Israel is an apartheid state. The movement will try and make comparisons to the Afrikaner government and draw similarities between Palestinians and South Africans to evoke similar responses against Israel that was taken in South Africa. Not only is this comparison offensive, but also insulting to the South Africans who suffered under apartheid.
Arab and Jewish citizens alike enjoy citizenship and all of its encompassing rights in the State of Israel: they can vote, be represented in government, go to school, work, travel and speak freely. Contrastingly, South Africans were murdered by their government and oppressed in every way. They couldn’t vote, weren’t considered citizens, and every detail of life for South Africans were discriminated by law: skin color determined where you lived, your job, school, medical treatment, spouse, mode of transportation and even burial ground.
Benjamin Pogrund from The Guardian attests to his experience: “I know Israel today — and I knew apartheid up close. And put simply, there is no comparison between Israel and apartheid.”
Another misconception spread by BDS is that the Jewish people have no right to the land of Israel. However, the Jewish people were the indigenous people of the land for over 3,000 years. The historical and national right to the state was recognized by the General Assembly of the United Nations on November 29th, 1947. The international right to the state was legally accepted and recognized by the League of Nations in 1920 and established even earlier in the Balfour Declaration in 1917. This makes their right to the state a part of international law! Reservists on Duty, a non-profit organization established by IDF veterans to counter BDS on college campuses, solidifies this fact in a comparison: “There are 130 countries in the world with a Christian majority, 49 with a Muslim majority, 3 with a Hindu majority and only one Jewish state on an area representing 1/800 of the size of the entire Arab world.”
There are many other myths to address and be aware of, but the most important fact to take away is this: without knowing the facts and using education as a shield to media distortion, college kids are prone to losing their Zionism or Jewish identity. Without education, BDS will encourage students to keep their heads down and mouths shut wherever Israel is concerned. It will make students feel ashamed about their beliefs when they have every right to feel proud.
The BDS movement will propel narratives of good and evil; they will spin stories that wouldn’t be persuasive to anyone who reads up on the issue at hand or begins a discussion about it. This is why knowing how to respond to BDS on campus should be a fundamental imperative to any student on campus. Students can be taught to use words as tools instead of propaganda.
The most important thing to know when coming to campus, or even when walking down the street is to remember the following: keep an open mind and heart, be proud of your Judaic roots, have no shame for Zionism and keep the moral courage it takes to reject the BDS claims about apartheids and genocides because they are undoubtedly false.
Merle Dweck is a CAMERA fellow studying Corporate Finance and Economics graduating this May.